Michale Graves. His name is synonymous with horror on so many levels, and now that this talented musician from a little band you may have heard of called The Misfits has made the jump to film, we decided it would be a really smart idea to catch up with him and get the lowdown!
Heather Buckley: How was it working on a second feature (“>Perkins’ 14) with Craig Singer?
Michale Graves: Well, he and I ran into each other at a convention in NJ. We got to talking and I told him that I was still very interested in acting and to try and please keep me in mind if ever an opportunity that would suit me came up. The fact that he did indeed keep me in the back of his mind after I expressed to him my desire to act really gave me a soaring confidence. I was so very enthusiastic to be able to have the opportunity to work under Craig’s direction again. It was wonderful to get that phone call after running into him.
HB: How was it doing the shoot for Perkins 14 in Romania?
MG: Being in a different country such as Romania had its challenges, but at the end of the day, at least for me, the environment and the circumstances I and the rest of the cast found ourselves in really played into what we were trying to achieve on screen.
I loved going to work every day, and each day I took away a new lesson. Craig’s spirit, passion, and focus are palpable when he is going on all cylinders. He digs into his projects. He knows what he wants and does everything he can to capture it. It was also exciting to be a part of such a pioneering effort within the industry.
MG: Well, I’ll tell you … we (cast and crew) lived in a pretty large hotel in the city of Bucharest while on location. It was a fairly new building and parts of it were still under construction.
Sometimes at night I would wander the vacant floors that were being worked on to ponder things or work on new ideas for songs that I was writing. I loved to sing in some of the spots because of the wonderful reverb. On more then one occasion I began to see what appeared to be a dark figure, like silhouetted, peering around a corner that was inside one of these rooms.
They were quick flashes out of the corner of my eye when I would be working or deep in thought about lyrics or whatever I was working on. I saw it a few times in the room and once in the hallway. Each time the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Maybe I was tired and just seeing things; maybe it was something else — Romania is a really strange place.
HB: So you believe in the supernatural?
MG: I do believe in the supernatural.
HB: How did you become interested in acting?
MG: Since I was young I have always wanted to be an actor as much as I wanted to be a musician. I put as much work in attending schools and classes and improv groups as I did honing my musical skills. My first real opportunity in film came soon after I joined The Misfits in Craig’s first film “Animal Room.”
The idea and the process to figure out and get inside a character’s head and essentially become that person on stage or screen has always intrigued me and fueled my sense of purpose.
As far as future gigs, I am working on other projects with Craig and I am seeking out other opportunities as well. I would certainly consider doing another horror genre film, but it would depend on the role and the story. The next thing I want to do is a much more complex, dramatic role. I hear Tim Burton is doing Alice in Wonderland … I’m hoping I’ll get a call.
HB:Do you have any favorite horror films and horror film directors?
MG: I absolutely love Poltergeist, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Exorcist. My favorite recent horror flick has been Zombie’s remake of Halloween. He is my favorite horror film director — his talent, ambition, and success are truly inspiring.
HB: Any thoughts on Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects? What is it about Rob Zombie’s films that you admire or are drawn too?
MG: I admire his commitment to style and form. Devil’s Rejects to me was a very focused effort that included all of the elements of film and genre that inspired Rob to become a filmmaker. I never imagined that the remake of Halloween could have been as good as it was. I was a skeptic going into it and was absolutely amazed at the final product.
It seems simple enough, but the way the Michael Myers character was developed to so much more of a degree then in the original played a big part in why I enjoyed it so much. I also admired the seamless transition, attention, and respect to the film’s original look and feel, right down to camera movements that Zombie incorporated.
HB: Has being in the Misfits given you any perspective on the horror-punk scene?
MG: I think that the genre of horror punk is like spinning your wheels in the mud. The scene is plagued with a lack of talent. There is no leadership or coordination and there’s not an original idea to be found. Luckily I’m still out here. It’s true, though. I can’t even begin to guess at the amount of submitted demos that I have listened to over the past 8 years that just re-hash the old ideas and sounds of the past.
Nobody has seemed to have figured out yet that the most stereotypical and ridiculous thing you can do as a band is allow your singer to sound exactly like Glen Danzig. Also, the whole idea of just naming your song after a horror movie has now been adapted into some sort of rule of the genre and is terribly annoying.
It also gone off the tracks because the bar has been set so low by things like the current incarnation, ideas, practices and products of The Misfits, Gorgeous Frankenstein, Wednesday 13, anything Dr. Chud is involved in and people like John Cafiero who have just ruined what could have been something really special. The material is consumed because there just isn’t anything else. My brand is different.
HB: How is your brand different?
MG: My brand is different because I am continuing and building upon a legacy and genre that I helped create and define in a rather large way and I am doing it with class, intelligence, talent, and respect. My brand is different because all of the aforementioned groups and individuals, as well as others not yet called out, that can’t stand the mere mention of my name.
My music is better and my brand is different because, along with my fans and supporters, I am changing the world and contributing to changing an industry. My brand is different because I am great at what I do and my success reflects that.
HB: Why do you think punk rockers are drawn to the horror genre?
MG: I think the horror genre gives us a platform to express our human trauma and fear both on a personal level and/or as a society. Film being the most predominant art form of the modern world has allowed us to play out the trauma of world wars, depressions, the horrifying thought of some sort of invasion and thought control that was stoked by the Cold War.
Since the 1900’s until present day, the genre represents our ever-changing world that includes us. Punk rockers by nature have a more profound appreciation for art, culture, and politics. That makes horror a perfect genre to co-exist and merge with because of the underlying currents that resonate so strongly with the typical adolescent or adult who struggles with understanding our world and place in it. It’s frightening to know you’re alive and eventually going to die.
Big thanks to Michale for taking time out of his schedule to make this happen!